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LA VERNE — The Occidental football team continues to improve and was in the mix for its first SCIAC victory of the season on Saturday.
But despite having a first-half lead, the Tigers gave up a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown to start the fourth quarter and then ran out of gas in a 24-14 loss at La Verne.
Oxy quarterback Jake Willemsen scored a rushing touchdown in the first quarter and Oxy led or was tied until La Verne made a field goal as time expired in the first half.
Trailing just 10-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Nathaniel Sagustume took Nathan Gray's punt all the way back to the house, putting La Verne up 17-7 just a few seconds into the fourth.
Oxy's improving young squad didn't quite have enough energy to overcome the double-digit lead, despite scoring again on a touchdown pass from Josh Greaves to John Isaac Cordova with 6:45 remaining in the game and recovering an onside kick that made things interesting.
The Tigers got another big effort from their defense through three quarters. Raffi Titizian six tackles, Harrison Wakefield and Arman Henry each had five, and John Gayden and Ethan Kearns had four. Anthony Solis had three tackles and a forced fumble.
Greaves finished 12 for 20 for 130 yards passing.
Willemsen was Oxy's leading rusher with 11 carriers for 32 yards, and went 7 for 8 for 70 yards passing.
Last weekend Oxy held first place Claremont-Mudd-Scripps to 27 points and got several impressive stops throughout the game. Oxy's Jackson Caudle made 10 tackles, had a sack and recovered two fumbles against the Stags, earning SCIAC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Season Impact: Oxy falls to 1-6 overall and 0-5 in SCIAC play.
La Verne improves to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in SCIAC.
Next Game: The Tigers are back in action against Pomona-Pitzer in the oldest college football rivalry on the West Coast next Saturday at 1 p.m. Oxy and Pomona-Pitzer compete in the Battle for the Drum.Follow Oxy Athletics on Twitter Sign Up for Newsletters Watch on Youtube Follow us on Instagram